Republicans, so referred to as celebration of household values, don’t help needy households | Robert Reich

L.As of Thursday, 39 million American parents have received monthly child benefit ($ 300 per child under six and $ 250 per child six to 17 years old). It has been the greatest helping hand to American families for more than 85 years.

They need it. Even before the pandemic, child poverty had reached post-war records. Even non-poor families were in trouble, burdened with increasing debts and missed payments. Most lived from paycheck to paycheck – so if they lost a job, they and their children could be plunged into poverty.

But every single Republican in the House and Senate voted against the measure.

After posting a tweet reminding people of this indisputable fact, Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee responded on Friday with a completely bizarre tweet: “If you’re one of the 39 million households receiving their first child tax credit today, forget about it Not that every single Democrat voted against enlargement. “

Hello? Did we just walk through the funhouse mirror?

In fact, Lee and Senator Marco Rubio suggested slightly higher payments during the US bailout debate last February. But here’s the catch: They just wanted to limit them to “working parents”. Unlucky children of unemployed people. But these children are the poorest of the poor. Without a roof over their heads, they are most hungry.

In a joint press release at the time, Lee and Rubio said they refused to support what they call “welfare” for unemployed parents and warned against “parents’ responsibility to work to provide for their families” to undermine. So Lee and other Republicans voted against all that shit – helping working and non-working parents. And now Lee wants to take credit for wanting to increase payments in the first place? Talk about both sides of the mouth.

As we near the pull of the mid-term elections – and polls show the popularity of monthly child payments – I expect other Republicans to make the same claim.

But under this Republican junk lie two important questions. The first: Will paying up to $ 300 per child per month – up to a total of $ 3,600 per child per year – turn parents into couch potatoes? That seems doubtful. Even a family with three children under the age of six wouldn’t get more than $ 10,800 a year. That’s well below what it takes to even pay the cost of living and still well below what a full-time job would get at the federal minimum wage.

But even if the payment caused some parents to work a little less, it begs a second question: Should children be punished for not having their parents work or for working less than they would without the child benefit?

This question has been debated in America for many years – ever since Franklin D Roosevelt first provided Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in the Social Security Act of 1935.

It cannot be decided on the basis of facts; it depends on values. For example, we know that child poverty skyrocketed after Bill Clinton and the Republicans in Congress ended AFDC in 1996. Many people, including myself, thought that decision was a terrible mistake.

But many of its proponents call it a success because it resulted in more poor adults getting jobs, setting a good example for their children to take responsibility for themselves. According to these proponents, a country where more parents take responsibility for their children is worth the collateral damage caused by greater numbers of impoverished children.

Since the 1990s, the Republican view has prevailed in America that public support should be limited to families with breadwinners. Only now, with the US rescue plan going into effect during the worst public health crisis in more than a century and one of the worst spurts of unemployment since World War II, has that view been rejected in favor of universal family benefit.

It is too early to know whether this turnaround will last. Payments to the bill will end in a year unless Congress passes Biden’s proposed $ 3.5 trillion increase. Almost all Democrats in the Senate have signaled their willingness to participate. But here, too, not a single Senate Republican has registered.

So that we understand each other. Mike Lee’s Republican Party – the supposed party of “Family Values” – does not really support families in need. It supports a pinched and, in these dangerous times, unrealistic view of personal responsibility – children are damned.

Comments are closed.